Behind a thick, unsigned wooden\u00a0door in Elorrio, Spain, a pretty town southeast of Bilbao in the Basque region, is a restaurant-grade kitchen and a sprawling dining room with old-timey, solid pine furniture. In the past, the sturdy seats have hosted generations of men but, increasingly today, women, too.\r\n\r\nI\u2019m one of those women, and I\u2019m in a txoko\u2014a members-only restaurant of a local gastronomic society. These clubs are where groups of friends who, in many cases, have known each other since childhood, gather regularly to cook, chat, eat and imbibe.\r\n\r\nBefore the meal, I wander around and spot a table of four elderly men sitting outside with a platter of bread and grilled blood sausage. One man lifts a porron, a decanter-style vessel, and\u00a0drinks red wine straight from the spout. It\u2019s around 11 a.m.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nEveryone here supports local, from the produce down to the delicate flakes of A\u00f1ana salt and, of course, the wine. Effervescent Txakolis from around Bilbao and Getaria pair with the seafood, while hearty Rioja Alavesa reds complement the steak.\r\n\r\nA week later, at another txoko, Bilbotarren\u00ad Bazkuna, interior designer Alfonso\u00ad de Lecea stands at the grill, where he sears aged entrec\u00f4te\u2014thin, boneless ribeye steaks\u2014and fries Guernica peppers. He pours a full-\u00adbodied Rioja Tempranillo at a table where 12 of his childhood mates have gathered for their monthly reunion.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cDon\u2019t bring your \u20ac1,000 collectable wine here,\u201d says de Lecea. \u201cYou\u2019re not going to impress anyone.\u201d The table raises a glass to that. \u201cWe all know each other since we had pimples. We drink the inexpensive local stuff\u2014it\u2019s the way it is,\u201d he says with a smile.\r\n\r\nAfter visiting six txokos and examining their wines, I come to accept de Lecea\u2019s words as gospel.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cOur palates are very used to the taste of local wine,\u201d says Ivan Jim\u00e9nez,\u00ad president of Txoko Guri Zer. \u201cRioja wine is known as some of the best in the world. Besides, why pay a fortune for something not better than yours?\u201d\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s hard to argue with that.\r\n\r\nThe txokos often expand or change their wine lists as the board of members rotate duty. However, they tend to stick with affordable favorites like Guri Zer\u2019s choices of Txakoli from nearby Bodegas Itsasmendi, cherry-red Campillo Crianza and fine reds from Marqu\u00e9s de Riscal in the Rioja Alavesa.\r\n\r\nThese wines are straight\u00adforward and dependable, and they accent the food and camaraderie. In a world with a seemingly endless choice of bottles, and a region with more than its fair share of\u00a0 Michelin-starred restaurants, it\u2019s this endearing loyalty that stays with me.